Album #220: Zoon – Bleached Wavves

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Hamilton, Canada
  • Label: Paper Bag
  • Best Track: Vibrant Colours

Given that I follow the shoegaze scene quite keenly, I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this June-released debut album by Daniel Monkman, aka Zoon, until last week.

Especially since it’s up there with bdrmm’s debut as one of the best releases I’ve heard within the genre this year. OK, there’s a clear My Bloody Valentine influence running through its veins – the pared-down and percussionless glide of the title track echoing MBV’s ‘Sometimes’ and ‘She Found Now’, the quasi-Indian tones of ‘Was & Always Will Be’ mimicking ‘Swallow’, and the dance infusion of ‘Soon’ finding its way into ‘Landscapes’ – but you don’t put on a 2020 shoegaze record expecting to hear something unlike anything else you’ve heard before.

What you want to hear is atmosphere, disorientating sounds you can lose your mind in, and murky melodies that hover in your brain in a half-asleep haze. Bleached Wavves offers all of this and more.

For a start, Vibrant Colours is wonderful – a superbly pulled off track. We have a long, sighing, weary intro, drowned out by seas of guitar remnants; a sombre, mood-establishing verse; a key change for the chorus that tugs at the heartstrings; and the song doesn’t so much fade out as disintegrate. As is often the case with MBV, behind the noise soup it’s a pretty simple song that could work just as well in a completely different genre.

The all but instrumental drone of ‘Brokenhead’, which fades in and sputters out, stands out too, as does the much more vocally driven ‘Light Prism’.

I often feel like gazers are championing the wrong bands at the moment, like the messy and derivative Ringo Deathstarr and the formulaic Whirr, whose shoegaze-by-numbers might be acceptable if they weren’t a bunch of transphobic keyboard warriors. Much more under the radar, this young artist is producing something far more meaningful at his first attempt.

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